NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Some nurses across the country said they are quitting their jobs after RaDonda Vaught was found guilty last month in Nashville.
A jury found Vaught, a former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse, guilty of criminally negligent homicide. The decision comes after she gave a 74-year-old patient a fatal dose of the wrong medication in 2017.
After reading Vaught’s guilty verdict, many nurses joined an 8,200 member Facebook group called “Nurses March for RaDonda.” Hundreds of nurses in the group said they plan to travel to Nashville for Vaught’s sentencing next month and protest. Some feel so strongly about the verdict that they left their job.
“I am quitting travel nursing because of the verdict,” Jennifer Olvera said.
Olvera was a travel nurse for 17 years. Now she’s leaving her career and moving to Florida.
“I am currently moving. I just finished my last travel assignment in St. Paul, MN,” Olvera explained.
After years of hard work, she said she can’t become criminally liable for something she didn’t intend to happen.
“I can make a mistake. I’m human,” Olvera said. “I don’t – if I’ve ever made a mistake that has reached a patient, I don’t believe that I have. But it could happen tomorrow.”
“Any of us could make a mistake, but I don’t think any of us could make this mistake,” Scott Shelp, a nurse in California for 30 years, said.
Instead of leaving the field, Shelp said he’s going back to school to become a nurse practitioner.
“If you can’t see the warning on the vial when you inject it, you can’t blame the hospital for that,” he said.
Shelp said he believes Vaught should not have gone to criminal court and hopes she serves a light sentence. But, he added that nurses need to be held accountable for the standards.
“I really want to see nurses, instead of fear-mongering and scaring each other to death, to take this opportunity to recommit ourselves to the profession,” Shelp said.
“It could legit happen to anyone. I am RaDonda,” Olvera said. “I am Jennifer. I am a nurse. That’s how you are. And so, to quit nursing is going to be a change to my entire life. So not everyone can do that.”
Olvera said she will be one of the nurses outside the courthouse for Vaught’s sentencing.